Going in and out of cold weather is something we all have heard will get us sick. So we’ve been told for years by our parents: “Make sure to bundle up. Cover your head.” Some common terms of endearment we might hear from our loved ones wishing us well. The problem is not the hot or the cold weather. Instead, it is a failure to properly adapt!
What you might not know is there’s a time and place for this exact type of thing, going from hot to cold in a jiffy.
Have you heard of contrast water therapy? This is a longstanding bio-hack that’s been proven to have some pretty great benefits for our health.
This is a neat little trick that improves your immune function, for free, just by switching up your water temperature in short bursts.
Athletes have used contrast water therapy for years to help with muscle recovery after a tough workout or training session. Now you can use this trick in your shower for its multitude of other benefits.
Going hot for 10 seconds then cold for 25 to 30 seconds is as simple as it sounds. You’ll want to go back and forth for 20 minutes to get the most benefits. In the beginning, it’s completely fine to start with five minutes or so, however much you can muster up to do until you can manage 20 minutes straight of this alternating temperature. Build up till you get the hang of it.
A study involving 3,000 people aged 18-65 was done by the Academic Medical Centre in Amsterdam in 2016 and published in the very prestigious PLOS. This study found that doing this for just 90 seconds every day improved medical health so drastically that sick days were reduced by 30%.
Another study proved that just by using this method of therapy often, the body's ability to produce immune cells like monocytes and white blood cells was greatly improved. This meant that not only were we better able to defend ourselves from foreign invaders like bacteria or viruses, but also increased the ability to fight major illnesses like cancer.
Contrast water therapy also improves the functions of fibroblasts, a component needed for the production of collagen. Collagen is an important anti-aging component, which means this free and neat little trick can have you looking younger and more supple if utilized frequently.
This therapy also vastly improves your mood. One study conducted over a six-month period demonstrated that contrast water therapy dramatically increased noradrenaline production, thus improving mood.
This has also been proven to not only optimize mental function and alertness throughout the day when done in the morning but also improves sleep when conducted at night by putting the body into a parasympathetic state of rest and digest.
Contrast water therapy helps you to become more resilient not only in your body but also in your mindset too. How fast we are able to bounce back and adapt is one of the most important things in health. Putting our cells through a little bit of stress like this improves our cells' resilience and their ability to bounce back after other types of stress affect them.
Three other benefits of contrast water therapy include increased fat-burning abilities, increased circulation, and quicker muscle recovery. NBA star LeBron James says that this hot-cold therapy is one of the best ways he recovers after a stressful game, underscoring the importance of this therapy, which is free, to our general well-being.
Ancestrally speaking, cultures across the world have been using this method for centuries. Nordic and Scandinavian countries have been practicing hot-cold therapies long before it was proven as such an essential bio-hack. These cultures have long-established practices of going out for a roll around in the snow after a hot shower or some time in the sauna. Think of how good it feels to have a hot drink after coming in from the cold.
Add this to the list of things you do regularly to support your metabolic health and well-being.